May 20, 2011

Where deviation became the norm

The big news in West Virginia--and in much of the national media--is the release of a report on the causes of the Massey Energy Upper Big Branch mine disaster which killed 29 coal miners on April 5, 2010.

The report was prepared by the Governor's Independent Investigation Panel which was formed by then WV Governor Joe Manchin. It was submitted to current Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Leading the team was J. Davitt McAteer, former head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration under President Clinton. Team members included Jim Beck, Celeste Montorton, Debbie Roberts, Katie Beall, Pat McGinley, Suzanne White and Beth Spence. Spence, who works for the American Friends Service Committee was the lead writer of the report. Governor Manchin previously asked McAteer and several members of this team to investigate the fatalities in Massey's Aracoma mine fire in 2006.

The release of the report yesterday has generated huge amounts of coverage, a selection of which follows. First up, here's one by America's best coal reporter, Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette.

Here's a sampling of national media coverage by the New York Times, NPR, CNN, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and MSNBC. There's way more where that come from.

According to the report, the disaster was man made and was due in part to a corporate "culture in which wrongdoing became acceptable, where deviation became the norm." More on this next week.

(Note: this post was prepared late Thursday and scheduled for publication early Friday morning. Here's hoping nothing awful happens between now and then.)

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